How to Warm Up for a Run

How to Warm Up for a Run with New Heights Physical Therapy, serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

Warming up before a run is important in two ways: it prepares you mentally for the exercise ahead, and it’s a great way to protect your body against injury. A warm up will do several important things for your body, including:

  • Improve blood flow throughout your body
  • Make your muscles more flexible
  • Get your heart and lungs ready for the increased workload to come
  • Improve your body movements and coordination

The best way to warm up before a run has long been debated by runners, doctors, trainers, and many others involved with exercise. At New Heights, we want everyone to feel comfortable with their chosen form of exercise. We’ll work with you to figure out exactly how your body prefers to warm up!

Do I need to warm up before exercise?

Warming up your muscles before you use them vigorously during a run or other physical activity significantly reduces the risk of joint and muscle injury. Your body needs to be limber and flexible before doing any intense movement, and a warm up is not a matter of personal preference. It’s a necessity!

Can you warm up with stretches?

Many people opt for basic dynamic stretches for their pre-running routine. Dynamic stretches keep you moving, helping to warm up your body while lengthening your muscle fibers. Prior to a run, focus on stretches for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Don’t forget your arms! Do some shoulder rolls and arm circles.

Can you warm up with a light jog?

Some experts in the field disagree with stretching before a run, arguing that because muscles are still cold and inflexible, stretching before working out is a terrible idea. Instead, they prefer to walk or jog slowly for a few minutes. A slow start with your run can prepare your body for larger movements. By mimicking the same movements during your warm up that you plan to use for the main part of your exercise, you will be prepping your muscles with minimal impact. You could also try jumping rope or performing walking lunges.

Which warm up option is right for you?

As long as you are safely performing dynamic stretches or light cardio, either option can be the right choice for your warm up. You might try doing one warm up for a week or so, paying attention to your body, and then switch methods for another week.

Choose the option that most appeals to you. The longer you run, the more easily you will be able to tell what feels best, and which type of warm up decreases soreness both during and after your run.

A physical therapist can help you develop habits and goals for exercise that will work with your body. At New Heights Physical Therapy, our specialists can watch you run, examining your stride and looking at previous injuries to help you make changes to your running pattern. With our help, you can start running more comfortably and create a lifelong healthy habit!

The Importance of Gait Analysis

New Heights Physical Therapy offers Gait Analysis in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

What is Gait Analysis?

Gait analysis is a commonly misused term. Most people think of being fitted for running shoes in a sports-footwear store as gait analysis, but gait analysis should be a carefully monitored, scientific evaluation of gait–in other words, an analysis of the patterns, angles, and positions of hips, knees, and feet while walking or running. While sports-footwear stores can offer a generalized recommendation, they lack the scientific equipment necessary to make a true evaluation of your body’s patterns and functions.

Do I Need My Gait Evaluated?

When a physical therapist evaluates your gait, they are evaluating much more than how a shoe fits: they’re evaluating your injury history, your present physical condition, and the steps you may need to take to properly train or condition your entire body.

Gait analysis is used to identify past or present injuries or issues, repeated habits that may lead to injury, and preventative therapies to strengthen and condition the lower half of the body. It’s an important step for anyone with a present injury, recurring injuries, or future plans to train seriously for an activity or sport. Areas of the body considered during gait analysis:

  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Feet

Your body is a network of interconnected muscles, tendons, and joints. Any injury or bad habit in one area of the body can lead to overuse, strain, or more serious injuries in another part of the body. Gait analysis is the first step to identifying and changing harmful patterns before they can cause serious damage.

New Heights Physical Therapy Offers Running Evaluations

We offer gait analysis in the form of running evaluations, as part of our wide range of physical therapy services. By identifying problem areas, habits, and recurring injuries, we can help you walk or run in a way that is helpful, rather than harmful, for your body. It’s always best to prevent an injury before it occurs, and our running evaluations can help to determine the best training and habit-changing methods for you.

If you’re having difficulty healing from a current injury, it’s probably time to consult a physical therapist or doctor. Repeated or prolonged injuries can produce scar tissue, making it ten times more difficult to heal the next time. By resting, treating, and evaluating the cause of an injury, you are respecting your body and preventing more damage from occurring.

7 Tips for Your First Marathon

Tips for Your First Marathon, New Heights Physical Therapy Portland OR Vancouver WA

Marathons are a great way to test one’s strength, stamina and endurance. They are also used by many who want to get in shape or who want to test their bodies. A marathon is a long-distance running course that is just over 26 miles long. Many popular marathons are hosted around the world every year, and many smaller cities are beginning to take part too as people become more invested in their health and are looking for ways to enjoy group exercise in their own communities.

7 Tips for Marathon Training

  1. Take your time training. However, marathon training is not just a spur of the moment activity done shortly before the scheduled event. Instead, those who want to run in a marathon must begin training months before the big day to build up their muscles and get their bodies used to the strain of long-distance running. Marathon preparation should last a minimum of 12 weeks to give individuals time to add longer running sessions in slowly over the following weeks. Individuals should run at least three times per week with one long training session every 7 to 10 days.
  2. Don’t forget to rest. Rest and recovery are a necessary part of training to prevent muscle injury.
  3. Invest in the right gear. Of course, runners will need the right gear to stay comfortable while exerting themselves. Comfortable, worn-in running shoes are a must along with comfortable clothes that can be layered if necessary and that allow for good circulation around the body. Runners should always be sure to wear socks to prevent blisters.
  4. Eat extra carbs for a week leading up to the marathon. On the day of the marathon and a few days prior to the marathon, runners should be careful about what they eat. In the week before the race, individuals should begin eating more carbohydrates than usual, focusing on pasta and rice especially.
  5. Drink extra water. In the day leading up to the race, individuals should eat balanced meals while paying special attention to consuming plenty of water.
  6. Do not run on a full stomach. No one should run on a full stomach.
  7. Maintain correct running posture. It is vital to understand good running style during the day of the marathon. Runners should maintain a tall posture while looking straight ahead. Bending at the waist will lead to back pain before the end of the race.

A marathon is an excellent way to test one’s body, prove one’s strength and endurance and enjoy a favorite activity with hundreds of other runners. Taking the time to prepare thoroughly will help runners succeed while also keeping their bodies safe throughout the event.

Running Out of Injury

By: Michelle Gilpin, DPT

In last month’s blog post, we talked about the epidemic of running injuries. Running injuries occur in the majority of runners. Why? First of all, the number one predictor of injury is a history of injury. Often it is because the cause of the injury was never treated.

Let’s explore:

We find a weak core and hips in almost every runner we evaluate. Your legs will carry you pretty far, but if you don’t have a strong core and hips serving as a foundation, eventually those legs are going to wear out. Your first sign will be an ache in the knee, hip, and sometimes even in the back. Often, this is when people grab the Rock Tape, knee brace, or buy a new pair of shoes. This might give you some temporary relief, but it doesn’t really fix the problem. One of two things are going to happen, your pain is going to come back – with a vengeance- or you’re going to get pain somewhere else, because now you’re compensating for that pain and weakness. There’s a saying in physical therapy that applies well to runners, “where you think it is, it isn’t.” Treating the symptoms often does nothing for treating the problem.

The solution? Fix the problem of course! If you’ve worn out a tire because the alignment is bad in your car, does it make sense to just change the tire without fixing the alignment? No! You’re going to end up right back where you are. Same goes for your body.

Below are links to several exercises that every runner should be doing to gain and maintain core and hip strength. If you’re strengthening your core and hips, not only will you be helping prevent injuries down the road, but as you get stronger, you’ll be running farther, longer and easier!

These exercises are just a sampler of what is available. The best way for you to figure out where your weaknesses and malalignments lie is to get a running assessment done by a physical therapist. Find one who looks at your strength, balance and running gait – like us! Getting an assessment can help determine weaknesses, predict injuries and improve your form. So, get on it. Prevent those injuries before they happen and show the world what you’re capable of!

See you soon!

 

 

For more videos visit our New Heights YouTube channel.

How-To Not Flunk Your Exercise Resolution

Written By: Gema Sanchez, PT

By now, you have heard over and over again that regular exercise is essential for happy, healthy aging. But establishing an exercise program, and sticking to it, can be extremely difficult, especially for those for whom exercise has never been a part of their life. As a physical therapist, I have had many people express the desire to start a regular exercise program, or lament that they were exercising regularly for a while but then stopped and have been unable to get back to it.

So, what to do? It’s all about clearing any blocks you might have to getting to the gym, pool, Yoga studio, rock climbing gym or local track and starting.

Here is my advice:

  1. Make it convenient

Choose a location close to work or home or on your daily route. You will find it much easier to get to the gym if you pass it every day than if you have to go out of your way to get there. Make it difficult to give yourself the excuse that it is inconvenient. Every day as you pass the gym, thinking to yourself, “I’m signed up and paying my dues, I should go in there”, remember it will only take a turn of the steering wheel to get you in the parking lot.  First obstacle: Get into the gym. You can’t work out if you aren’t in there.  Also, remember to look for spontaneous and easy to establish ways to exercise.   Walking in the evening, playing with your kids, riding your bike to do errands, taking the stairs when you have time and parking further away from your destination are all really easy ways to get your exercise in without having to carve time out of your schedule.

  1. Find something you really like

You will not stick with something that doesn’t challenge you or is not fun. Sure, you may force yourself to go for a while, but come the holidays, or your vacation or nice weather;  you’ll fall out of the habit and not really want to go back.  Don’t like aerobics, how about swimming? Don’t like the gym? How about dance, or Yoga, or Pilates? Can’t afford the gym or classes? You can walk, or ride your bike or look for free classes for beginners at Yoga studios. The most important thing is that the activity itself motivates you. If you are going by will power alone, it won’t stick.

  1. Get a buddy

Finding a reliable workout partner is hard but worth the effort.  Many people turn to family, friends or neighbors, but sometimes the best workout partners are found right where you work out. Like you, they have summoned the willpower and have the motivation to show up, which is half the battle.  Having a partner helps keep your workout consistent and challenging. You both bring ideas to the workout and when you are having a day when you are less than motivated to go, having someone waiting and counting on you can be just the extra little something you need to motivate you.

  1. Change it up

Many people learn or develop a workout routine and then do the same routine every time they go to the gym. It’s worth it to gradually add to your routine options, learn new machines, try new classes, watch and learn from the people around you. Not only will your workout be well rounded, you will have more fun and never get bored.  I am a regular at the gym in the cool, rainy weather and we rarely do the same workout twice. But come summer, I would far rather go for walks, do gardening or go for hikes. And by the time the rainy weather returns, I am ready and excited to get back to the gym!

  1. Build the habit slowly

It is really important to set realistic, achievable goals at first. Of course the ultimate goal would be to do some kind of exercise at least 3-7x/week.  If you have not been working out regularly, it is REALLY hard to put this in your schedule. You’ll start well for maybe one or two weeks then life will get in the way and next thing you know you haven’t exercised in 2 weeks.  Then it is very discouraging and hard to recommit.  Instead, start with committing to 1-2 days/week. Even if this is all you do for a month or two, it is much better then stopping and starting or doing nothing.  Once it is an easy and normal part of your weekly schedule, try adding more days as you are able.

 

 

5513197198_24b24ae9b8_o

Plantar Fasciitis – What Is It & What Works?

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is most commonly associated with pain in the dense, broad tissue across the sole of the foot (known as the plantar fascia).

Facts on plantar fasciitis

  • More than 1 million visits per year to US physicians are because of pain in the sole of the foot
  • Plantar fasciitis can happen to both sedentary and athletic people
  • It happens twice as often in women as it does in men
  • Is believed to be caused mainly by repeated microtrauma from chronic overload (lifestyle or exercise)

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Occupations that require prolonged standing
  • Poor footwear (Come to our Foot Health lecture on February 3rd!)
  • Weakness in the foot muscles
  • Decreased ankle range of motion
  • Flat feet
  • High arches

Physical therapy is the preferred treatment for plantar fasciitis and includes instruction in specific stretching and exercise, manual techniques and education about footwear and changes to activity.

Several studies have found that specific stretching and strengthening is helpful for plantar fasciitis. One study looked at a group that was using a standing stretching technique for the Achilles tendon and a group that was stretching the sole of the foot (the plantar fascia) in a sitting position. After 8 weeks, those who were stretching the plantar fascia while sitting had better patient satisfaction, less pain and were able to do more. But, two years later when the researchers followed up with these same study participants, they found that those participants who were doing the seated stretch to the sole of the foot remained improved AND that those who were doing the standing stretch to the Achilles tendon had also improved. Another group of studies indicate that the painful tissues in the sole of the foot have decreased blood flow and this makes healing the tissues difficult. Specific physical therapy exercises can be used to put tension through the plantar fascia tissue to stimulate healing of the tissues.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is made worse by standing and walking for long periods, especially in poor footwear.  Physical therapy provides education specific to each client to help them make changes to their specific activities. Clients also receive recommendations for changes to footwear such as arch supports to reduce stress on the sole of the foot and shoes with thicker, well cushioned soles. Foot pain often changes how you walk and this can cause tissue tenderness, pain and tissue imbalances in the legs. Manual techniques can be used to address the tissue tenderness and pain associated with foot pain and the tissue imbalances from changes in walking.

Plantar fasciitis is a debilitating condition which can take a long time to heal, often 6-18 months. New Heights Physical Therapy can provide targeted treatment and education to promote healing of tissues and faster return to normal function.

A General Guide to Running Injuries — and what a good Physical Therapist can do to help

Physical Therapy Procedure. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

Trent Corey Physical Therapist Vancouver WA

By Trent Corey, PT, DPT     New Heights Physical Therapy Plus, Vancouver, WA

In the line of work that I do, I am very fortunate to be able to treat people who have a variety of physical ailments, ranging from ankle sprains and lower back pain to cervical whiplash.  Though all of my patients bring a set of challenges, there is something very different about the runners that I treat.  As I myself have been a runner for over 20 years, with much of that time spent injured, I know how hard it is when an injury prevents me from getting out on the trail or roads.

It is estimated that 82% of all runners suffer injuries during their running career.   Though I don’t claim to know everything about the subject of running injuries and mechanics, I certainly know enough to help most of my runners get back to full capacity.  Here are a few “take home” tips that if each injured runner actually listened to and followed, would significantly reduce the number of commonly occurring running injuries.

  • Pay attention to what got you injured. 

    This may sound elementary, but some runners actually have no idea what they did that brought them to my clinic.  Usually it’s due to a “Training Error”, a term that basically means too much too soon: Ramping up speed, distance, or both at a rate their body was unable to handle.

  • Back off the running for a little while.

    Focus more on your imbalances, muscle weakness and tightness instead of plugging along on the same old run.  I frequently see people continue to run the same distance and pace, wondering why they aren’t getting any better.   Now, if you do not hurt during or after your run, or things are not getting worse with longer runs, then fine, you are on the right path.  However, there is an element of addiction in running (and other endurance sports) that is unlike anything I’ve seen with other injuries.  Runners need their fix, and no matter how often I tell them to slow down or cut back, they keep coming back for more of the very thing that injured them in the first place.  A physical therapy evaluation will identify patterns to work on; the key is to replace the old habits with new ones that make you stronger and more aligned as a runner, so you will be able to run for the months and years ahead.  Isn’t that worth a brief decrease in mileage in the short term?

  • Get your hips and butt working for you.

    I would say that about 90% of the runners I treat have weakness and/or tightness in the hips (usually both). This compromises your ability to stand on one leg as you transfer your weight forward during gait.  There is a great article about this in the April 2014 issue of Running Times magazine. I have an awesome routine that I give to patients that will get those butt muscles firing, as well as get all major muscle groups lengthened such as hip flexors, gluteals, adductors, quads, and hamstrings.

  • Do your core work. 

    I don’t care if it’s Pilates, Yoga, planks, or P90X, this is a crucial part of stability in gait.  If you are weak in your core, then you set yourself up for a whole host of problems throughout your system.  We need to start thinking of ourselves as athletes, not just sedentary people who run.   My runners get a healthy serving of core stability exercises that start from the most basic “neutral spine” positions to more dynamic stability movements on the ball, foam roller, or other unstable surfaces.

  • Get better at standing on one foot.

    I heard once from an online running coach that all runners should be able to stand on one leg for at least 3 minutes.  Try it.  It’s hard to do if your feet and hips are not strong.  Also, it’s amazing how bad people’s awareness of their bodies are, especially the injured ones.  Practice single leg balance for at least 2 minutes while brushing your teeth is a great way to improve body awareness and alignment for running.

  • Check yourself out on video.  

    This doesn’t have to be complicated, and since having a video camera is so common, it’s very easy to capture.  All you need is about 30 seconds (or less) of running at normal pace viewed from the side and from the back. Even without training in biomechanics, you are usually able to see things about your stride that don’t look quite right.  By doing the exercises and body focuses that we work on in therapy, you can recheck your form again in a month or so to see if you notice a difference.  Of course, we also do some basic video analysis in the clinic using an iPad so you can see what we see in your stride and what needs work.  A  good article about this was written in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Running Times.

IMG_0056_448w

  • Feel the Chi:

    I highly recommend the book Chi Running, by Danny Dreyer. Its simple approach to running stride is less about force and more about flow.  The basics include posture focuses such as leveling your pelvis, then leaning yourself forward while picking your feet quickly off the ground, not pressing.  The stride rate, or number of strides per minute is usually more than you’re used to, but it helps take pressure off the muscles and joints, since you are using gravity to pull you into a controlled fall forward.  These are just the basic concepts, but it can help you run further with much less effort.  Chi Running also has an App on iPhone that you can use to get your mind around this new concept.

  • ASTYM: 

    Runners who develop chronic tendonitis (now officially classified as a tendonosis), may benefit from a type of therapy called ASTYM.   Tendonosis is the break down in connective tissue strength and elasticity due to repetitive loading and inflammation cycles.  ASTYM uses special instruments to help stimulate growth factors in chronically inflamed and scarred down tissues, helping to remodel new tissue growth that will be stronger once healed.  What’s great about ASTYM to runners is that it is important to exercise regularly to load the tissue, because this helps your body to stimulate a new stronger tendon or muscle.Astym Therapy For Improving Running Performance - New Heights Physical Therapy - Portland OR Vancouver WA

  • Work out your tissue yourself. 

    ASTYM can be painful, but very effective, and so is massage if you can afford to go regularly. Another tool to become familiar with and use frequently is a foam roller.  In general, the more sensitive an area is, such as your calf or butt muscle, the more you need to massage it.NewHeights0312sm-11-300x207

  • Persistence, persistence, persistence!!!! 

    One of my greatest challenges as a physical therapist is managing patients’ expectations about recovering from an injury.  When patients come back after a week or two, or even at the second visit, and wonder why they aren’t any better, I usually remind them that this problem has been brewing for quite a while so a couple of quick exercises will not be enough to snap them right into perfect running form with no more injuries.  There are important things that must be done in therapy, and it takes up to   6000 repetitions of any movement for it to become ingrained as a habit without conscious focus. Keep in mind the three goals of therapy: To improve muscle strength and flexibility, develop balance in the right places,   and most importantly, train your nervous system to work correctly by feeling the optimal way to put one foot in front of the other.  This is like running to the horizon—you may never get to the ideal, but keep working at it by tuning into your body.  Your body will be glad you put the effort in to gain healthy new habits to keep you running for a long time.

Recommended reading:

Anatomy for Runners, by Jay Dicharry, MPT

The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, by Sage Rountree

www.chirunning.com